In her Resource classroom at Emerson Elementary in Oakland, Aiste Solly sees numerous students throughout the day who break from their general education classes for specialized support. Each student’s reading and mathematics levels differ, presenting a unique challenge to Resource teachers like her. This is where technology comes in; with funding from our Special Education Resource Grant Program, Ms. Solly has purchased iPads to act as supplemental tools for teaching. This device has quickly become a dominant tool in the classroom because of its multi-faceted capacity to support learning.
During a recent visit to her classroom, we were able to see firsthand the power of such tools. Because her students are all at varying levels, the individualized nature of the tool helps her stay on top of each student through data tracking. The iPad apps she purchased with grant funding allow her students to learn in a more visual and appealing way, while encouraging a hands-on approach to learning. Ms. Solly has also been able to unclutter her classroom and replace many books and tools with iPads. While Ms. Solly stated that traditional manipulatives will never be completely replaced by iPads, she has welcomed the streamlined approach to classroom materials.
iPads have also been integral to making her job more efficient. During our visit, two of the three students Ms. Solly was currently working with were using iPads, allowing her to work one-on-one with a student focused on grammar. I sat with one student, Michael, as he used an app that read stories to him. After a story was read aloud, he had to go back through and read it himself and then answer questions at the end. The app provided support along the way if he got stuck on the pronunciation of a particular word, just as a teacher would. The results of his reading time would be viewed later by Ms. Solly in order to track his progress and see where he is excelling or needs more assistance.
The iPad is not the only technology that is making waves among special education teachers; all types of technology, including laptops, Kindles, and speech language therapy software, are providing important teaching assistance. Without a doubt, emerging technology is paving the way for students of all ages and abilities, and we are excited to be a part of these innovations in learning through our immediate response teacher resource programs. Of course, these vital Special Education grants couldn’t be possible without funding from the Thomas J. Long Foundation!